Recommended Graphic Novels

In the run-up to Christmas, I thought I’d replace my usual short-fiction posts with something a little different. If you’re reading this blog, you’re obviously interested in books. In case you’re looking for a few suggestions for Christmas presents, I thought I would put together a few posts that recommend books in a specific genre. For each book, if you click on the title, you will be taken to my full review of the book. If you click on the cover, you’ll be taken to Amazon where you can purchase a copy of the book (and support my blog in the process – thanks!)

I thought I’d start with graphic novels, since we’ve read a couple this year that were read and reread.In fact, these are all going to be middle grade to teen targeted books who all happen to feature a female protagonist.

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Mother London by Michael Moorcock

For my readers in the U.S., I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. We took a quick vacation to Pittsburgh right before Thanksgiving and then had dinner with my parents. There was a bit more excitement than planned when our car got hit on the highway as we traveled to my parents’ house. No one was hurt, and we didn’t even break any dishes full of good food in the back. And now, back to our regularly scheduled book reviews:

Published: 1988

Genre: fiction

Length: 496 pages

Setting: London, 1940-1985

Interest: It was on my reading list for so long I’ve forgotten why I put it there. Continue reading

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Limited Edition by Tim Maughan

Published: September 2012 in Arc 1.3: Afterparty Overdrive

Genre: science fiction

Length: 30 pages

Setting: a futuristic city

Interest: It was included in the 2014 Campbellian Anthology

Summary: Grids and College have pretty much given up going to school – what’s the point? At least they can get influence points in the Smash and Grab games they run. They’ve got a new target for a raid – the latest pro-gamer sneakers. While they won’t be on the market for another ten days, it seems a local store has some in their stockroom. So, they organize a big Smash and Grab with their gang and some other local kids, with the promise that everyone will get a pair of the sneakers at the end, as well as all the points for the Smash and Grab. They loot the store, although there’s a QR code that leads to a feed that seems to show kids making these sneakers in terrible conditions. Grids decides to burn all the shoes as a publicity stunt (although not before he snags a pair for himself), which ranks him high in significance worldwide and makes him a bit of a local pariah.

Final thoughts: This one was a bit tough to get into. There’s a lot of lingo that the street-wise, gamer kids use, which sets up the world and their culture well, but decreases understanding at first. Maughan also likes to use little blurbs like tweets within the story to show how the local events are being seen in the larger society. I’m still not sure how the Smash and Grab games would work – a gang gets together, sets up a server, and then essentially loots some store for points and advertising. Weird. Ultimately, the story is about feeling significant when you have no hopes of improving your lot in life, with a little bit of the evils of large corporations thrown in for good measure.

Title comes from: The sneakers are limited edition, highly collectible, gamer-tie in shoes

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Let’s Have an Adventure!

I’m not going to do a weekly wrap-up this week. (We didn’t read that many new books, so I’ll just push them off until next week when we’re going to do even less schoolwork.) Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers is still collecting weekly wrap-ups if you want to see what other people are doing. Instead, I was asked to help Cotopaxi promote having adventures by recommending some adventure fiction. I’m in favor of both real-life and reading adventures, so here are some books to help with both of those. (If you click on the title, you’ll follow a link to my original book review. If you click on the book cover, you’ll follow a link to purchase the book on Amazon.)

If you want to see what kind of adventure you can have in an urban environment, try Hidden Cities: Travels to the Secret Corners of the World’s Great Metropolises; A Memoir of Urban Exploration by Moses Gates. There’s a surprising amount of adventure you can have, in the forgotten parts of a city, either above or below your feet. It may not be the most legal of adventures, but they are there for the having, if you just look in the right places. Gates shows you some of the places to look.

If you like your adventure a bit more historical and full of war, I’ve got two choices for you. First up is Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. This book is written more for the younger set, but it makes a great read aloud so the adult in the family can enjoy it as well. It’s set in WWII Norway and the plot involves using the children of a town to smuggle gold out from under the noses of the Nazis. For a different WWII adventure, Going Solo presents Roald Dahl’s adventures in Africa before and during WWII. He volunteers for the Royal Air Force, but is given inadequate training and poor equipment, which means he almost dies in the desert on the way to his first posting.

Prefer your adventures to be more science fictional? You should definitely read The Martian by Andy Weir. This is currently my favorite book (and it was made into a great movie) and is the modern-day version of the “stranded on a desert island” trope. It’s just that now, you have to go to another planet in order to be in a situation where rescue isn’t hours away. Throughout the book, Mark Watney has all kinds of adventures as he tries to get to a place where he can be rescued and the people back home try to figure out how they can get someone to rescue him. It certainly emphasizes the importance of science and math for survival, as well as tinkering and being able to put something together that will work when you don’t have exactly the right tool.

Finally, a couple of suggestions to encourage you and your kids to get out and have some adventures on your own. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv and The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble both discuss the importance of getting out and having your own adventures in natural places. This is especially true for children and their development, but it’s important for everyone to get out once in a while. It doesn’t have to be to anywhere fancy or involve much planning. A trip to the woods or down to the beach is fine. And once you’re there, don’t worry about the miles you put in. Concentrate on seeing what’s around you and experiencing what nature has to offer.

So, read any good adventures lately?

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Published: 2015

Genre: YA fantasy graphic novel

Length: 272 pages

Setting: the capital of an unnamed medieval Kindgom

Interest: I saw it at the library and thought it looked interesting. We’re on a graphic novel kick at our house, so I’m trying to find good graphic novels to read. Continue reading


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What I Will Be Reading #22

I’ve got a bunch of books to add to my reading list. No problem – I’ve been ticking books off the list fairly well. Of course, I’m not sure how many of these I’m going to read this year since I have eight slots left on my alphabet challenge that I REALLY want to finish this year. Know any good “N”, “O” or “V” authors?

The Modern Mrs. Darcy had a couple of posts recently that included some books I’m interested in. The first post focused on books that pair well together. I’m not really interested in two books together (I’d forget they were supposed to be read near in time to each other), but I was interested in 84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a sucker for books about bookstores or libraries, and I like the epistolary style. In a separate post on memoirs, I picked up A Circle of Quiet by Madeline L’Engle because she was a favorite author of my when I was a teen. I wouldn’t mind the chance to read some of her adult literature and learn more about her as a person. I went back and reread A Ring of Endless Light and the book held up well to my childhood memories.

The kids have been on a big graphic novel-reading kick, so I’m always on the lookout for good examples of that genre. There’s nothing wrong with pure fluff books, but it’s even better when you can learn something while you’re reading (and, in the case of the kids, rereading and rereading) an enjoyable book. The Hub came to my rescue with a post all about nonfiction graphic novels that, as a bonus, were written or illustrated by women. First off, I found  The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media. It’s all about how journalism and the media work. Goodness knows the media is all around us and shaping how we see events and the world. I think a bit of knowledge about the underpinnings of this omnipresent part of our society would be a useful tool in any child’s toolbox. I was also interested in Thunder & Lightning: Weather Past, Present, Future by Lauren Redniss. I remember doing a weather unit study with Mr. Curiosity when he was in third or fourth grade, and I think the topic would be interesting and enjoyable for Miss Adventure as well. I’m sure Mr. Curiosity can dig a little deeper this time around and this graphic novel looks like it could form a nice spine to our work on that topic.

One last book for this post – The Explorers Guild: Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala by Kevin Costner. This is a brand-new book that is being touted as a cross between Tintin and Kipling, since it combines a story with comics and it’s set in WWI. I’m a little nervous because it’s written by the actor Kevin Costner, but the review on the GeekDad post I saw it first on was very intriguing. While it’s written so it’s appropriate for tweens, the length (coming in at 784 pages) might make it a bit intimidating for kids. As a bonus, it’s got “X” in the title so I’m going to try to squeeze it in by the end of the year.

And those are the books I’m adding to my reading list. Anything sound interesting? Anything else I should add to my or my kids’ reading lists? Tell me in the comments!

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Published: 1978

Genre: middle grade fiction

Length: 216 pages

Setting: Westingtown, a fictional town on Lake Michigan, 1970s

Interest: It was recommended as a good read aloud. Continue reading

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